“Math professor figures formula for Beatles success”
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, here. Jason Brown, math professor in Nova Scotia, identified rhythmic patterns in Beatles songs in order then to produce a "Beatles" song of his own. The result is quite impressive. The issue that arises here, though, is that, while the recognition of musical and mathematical patterns are closely related. music and maths are not the same cultural product. And while the WSJ report implies that Brown found the mathematical "key" to what makes a Beatles song so "fresh" and lovely, indeed so perpetually satisfying, the question at stake here regards the boundary between, on the one hand, the identification of a satisfying pattern and the possibly concomitant activation of a reward mechanism upon its finding, and, on the other, the artistic determination of what is aesthetically satisfying – a question that lies on the border between cognitive psychology and aesthetics. Mathematics as music of the spheres – that idea has an old appeal and ancient history. But it can be turned on its head: perhaps one may attempt to study the nature of mathematical cognition via musical cognition. Even if mathematics do underly all musical patterns (and Brown could have "created" a Bach, a Mozart, a Brahms), one might also ask whether Brown might not have used his sense of song – what one superficially may understand as the musical sense – to do maths. Open questions. But the song is worth listening to.